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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.(Volume4,chapter67)

2006-08-22 18:55

  Chapter 67

  All womankind, continued Trim, (commenting upon his story) from the highest to the lowest, an‘ please your honour, love jokes; the difficulty is to know how they chuse to have them cut; and there is no knowing that, but by trying, as we do with our artillery in the field, by raising or letting down their breeches, till we hit the mark.—

  —I like the comparison, said my uncle Toby, better than the thing itself—

  —Because your honour, quoth the corporal, loves glory, more than pleasure.

  I hope, Trim, answered my uncle Toby, I love mankind more than either; and as the knowledge of arms tends so apparently to the good and quiet of the world—and particularly that branch of it which we have practised together in our bowling-green, has no object but to shorten the strides of Ambition, and intrench the lives and fortunes of the few, from the plunderings of the many—whenever that drum beats in our ears, I trust, corporal, we shall neither of us want so much humanity and fellow-feeling, as to face about and march.

  In pronouncing this, my uncle Toby faced about, and march‘d firmly as at the head of his company—and the faithful corporal, shouldering his stick, and striking his hand upon his coat-skirt as he took his first step— march’d close behind him down the avenue.

  —Now what can their two noddles be about? cried my father to my mother—by all that‘s strange, they are besieging Mrs. Wadman in form, and are marching round her house to mark out the lines of circumvallation.

  I dare say, quoth my mother—But stop, dear Sir—for what my mother dared to say upon the occasion—and what my father did say upon it—with her replies and his rejoinders, shall be read, perused, paraphrased, commented, and descanted upon—or to say it all in a word, shall be thumb‘d over by Posterity in a chapter apart—I say, by Posterity—and care not, if I repeat the word again—for what has this book done more than the Legation of Moses, or the Tale of a Tub, that it may not swim down the gutter of Time along with them?

  I will not argue the matter: Time wastes too fast: every letter I trace tells me with what rapidity Life follows my pen: the days and hours of it, more precious, my dear Jenny! than the rubies about thy neck, are flying over our heads like light clouds of a windy day, never to return more— every thing presses on—whilst thou art twisting that lock,—see! it grows grey; and every time I kiss thy hand to bid adieu, and every absence which follows it, are preludes to that eternal separation which we are shortly to make.—

  —Heaven have mercy upon us both!

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